Nate Bethea served as a U.S. Army infantry officer from 2007-2014, deploying to Afghanistan in 2009-2010. He is an MFA candidate in fiction at Brooklyn College and teaches at Voices From War (http://voicesfromwar.org), a free creative-writing workshop for veterans in the NYC area. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, Guernica, the Daily Beast, the Iowa Review, and McSweeney's Internet Tendency.
If we are to believe the current suite of Washington rumors (and the attendant journalism), the presumptive nominees of both the Democratic and Republican parties have general officers on their sides. Recent Washington Post coverage of Donald Trump’s vice presidential shortlist mentioned retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, the former Defense Intelligence Agency director and surprise guest star on This American Life’s “Serial” podcast. Similarly, in a recent New York Times Magazine feature, readers learned of numerous retired Army generals serving in an advisory capacity to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: names like Gen. David Petraeus, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, and Adm. James Stavridis.
U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Brittany E. Jones
The face of the man who wanted to kill me wasn’t immediately visible — the photo of him required close examination. My company commander took the picture while deployed to Iraq in 2005. On a noontime reconnaissance mission, he’d captured a million-dollar snapshot: a man in a ghillie suit emplacing an IED at midday. Except my commander didn’t notice; he only realized it when he returned to his outpost and reviewed the images. Under camouflage netting, in 100-degree-plus heat, a man lay perfectly still, as if staring down the camera — singularly focused. My commander’s unit never caught the man in the ghillie suit. I’ve never forgotten the image.